BALTIMORE (May 11, 2018)—In response to the Russian sponsored Facebook ads released by Congress yesterday, the NAACP, the nation’s foremost civil rights organization, released the following statement:
“These ads were designed to stoke animosity and disagreement among racial groups. They served as fuel for the divisive flames of the 2016 presidential election and planted seeds of intolerance that are now blossoming across our nation.
“The ongoing increases in hate crimes, explicit and implicit bias, and police brutality have a direct correlation to the hatred spewed during the past presidential election and these fraudulent ads on Facebook. When combined with the racist and xenophobic policies emanating from the White House, our nation has reached a height of bias not seen in a long time.
“The messages promoted by Russians on Facebook were nothing short of manipulative and disturbing. More than half of the 3,500 ads made explicit references to race, and many of those references disingenuously represented people of color.
“These inflammatory ads depicted African Americans as violent, Muslims as terrorists, and immigrants as invaders. With the midterm elections less than six months away, Facebook and other social media networks have a corporate responsibility to ensure that their content and users are not positioned to be exploited in ways that undermine the democratic process and the integrity of the vote, whether through internal or external agents.
“In truth we must also acknowledge that our vulnerability as a nation to these manipulations rest in the failure of our nation to make democracy real to all people and to address the same issues of poverty, police brutality, and voter protections that have plagued our nation for more than a century. It is for this reason that we continue to call for testing and training in implicit bias as a corporate and public responsibility to move our nation forward as opposed to apart.” Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP